Our family had a wonderful Sunday and it had absolutely nothing to do with the Super Bowl. In fact, I don't think any of us, including my husband, have any idea who played or who won, not that there's anything wrong with being a football fanatic, it's just not our family. The thing that made this day wonderful for us was the fact I was able to go to church today.
As the saying goes, I cut my teeth on the back of church pew. I have always been in church, however that does not translate to always being saved. As with a lot of children raised in church, you live off your parent's relationship with God for a long time. You might say, it becomes more a lifestyle than a true commitment. I'm not saying it is that way with everyone but after 42 years of talking with others raised in church, it is something that often happens. It wasn't until much later in my life when I can say I truly made a personal commitment to God. To be honest, I think it took seeing God through the eyes of my husband who did not grow-up in a Christian home. It was seeing God through his eyes that caused me to realized, I had not been seeing God at all, and my life was then changed. I had a great deal of knowledge but no relationship.
I have been missing church. It was the middle of October since I was able to make a service and even though I was listening to Pastor Donna's and Pastor Carl's sermons, it just wasn't the same. After spending years at home without the physical ability to attend a service and enjoy the encouragement that comes with worshiping with other Christians, you appreciate what God was talking about in Hebrews 10:25 "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." While, yes, you are in God's presence no matter where you are, there is something special about being with others to encourage each other in our daily walk. God wants us to hold each other up and there is a special thing that happens when 'two or three are gathered together" in agreement.
Today was no exception. The church was full, the music was amazing as always. Glad Tidings has the most uplifting music I have ever experienced in a church in all the years I have attended. Of course, we are in NYC and it is amazing to listen to those in our church that are using their special talents for the Lord.
We are blessed to be in a church that is completely accepting of everyone. After years of traditional churches, we began to believe a church like this one didn't exist. One where using whatever talents God has given is encouraged and in turn, so many are blessed. One where any person, no matter what race, color or creed, can come in and feel completely at home. One where you feel the presence of God so strong you are immediately uplifted. And, one where everyone is smiling. That, I think is one of the notable things about our church, you see joy on everyone's face which can only come from God. After years of seeing sullen faces, just walking in and seeing such joy and laughter in every service, you know you have found something special.
The other huge asset to our church is our pastors. We are very blessed to have pastors who see Christianity as a ministry. A place where we are taught to put others before ourselves and to use the talents God gave us to minister first and foremost. We love that approach to Christianity. Whenever you strive to help others in every way possible, God always in turn blesses you beyond measure.
A personal note here… One of my favorite parts of the weeks to is listen to our pastor's sermons. Pastor Donna has an amazing gift of delivering God's word in such a way that it hits to the heart of the matter. I am always encouraged by her messages as well as Pastor Carl's. They are an amazing team and have a history of serving God that brings tears to your eyes when you realize all the sacrificed they have made to further the gospel. To their credit, their two very capable adult sons are helping in the ministry at the church which is a badge of honor for any parent.
I suppose you can tell just how much I love our church! We spent the first part of my illness walking this journey alone and in need of someone to support us. Our faith was low and we were so discouraged, it was difficult to take each and every step. Finding Glad Tidings was an amazing story. We found Glad Tidings through a young man at a Gelato shop we stopped at after being trapped in the NYC subway system for four hours trying to find a station where the elevators worked so we could get my wheelchair to the surface. We were trying to locate a different church in NYC but were obviously way too late for service and when we walked in Grom's, all dressed in Lyme Green (you can see the picture I took of the family on this page), the young man suggested we try his church. As it turned out, it was only 15 minutes and one short PATH ride from our apartment. God's hand was in those four hours and our failed attempt at going to church that day to lead us to where He wanted our family. Because that young man took the step to invite our family, we have been blessed and encouraged. You just never know when a seemingly simple act of faith on your part can change someone else's life.
On to another week…